I'm glad we do this.
I'm glad I work with a principal who believes in the importance of doing something like this with our kids. We have so many kids in our rooms with stories that would curl your toes. It's nice to be able to offer some of them a weekend away from whatever troubles them. (And every year I get at least one kid who comments about how they've never seen or eaten so much food in their life - that breaks my heart.) I know this has lasting impact. I had eighth graders changing classes as we herded our kids out to the bus that rainy Friday and they all remarked on how much fun it was last year and wished they could go again. They looked so downcast.
One thing we learned - every group of kids is different. Last year's kids were great, we thought, but this year they were fantastic. They never whined about cleaning up after meals and wiping down the tables and vacuuming. They never whined about getting their dorms cleaned up and they did a fantastic job with very little input from us. They showed up on time, did what we asked of them, and helped each other out. They were great. So great that the staff commented to us how well behaved, respectful and nice they were. We've often commented on what a great group we got this year, and this just proved it.
(On an aside, we've seen and heard about the current crop of sixth graders coming our way. Let's just say, the future looks very, very grim.)
Granted, giving up a weekend to spend with kids that we spend all week with, may not sound like a good deal to some, but it was worth it to us. All it took was the look on a kids face when he or she paddled that canoe for the very first time. Or made it up the wall with the help of his or her teammates for the challenge course. Or the squeal of delight when he or she caught that salamander.
It's sad, but I don't think some of my kids have much of a childhood. It was nice to give them at least one weekend of one.